Knowing When You’re Ready

Do you feel ready for incredible success with your career?
Do you feel stuck on how to get there?

Do you look at where you want to be and feel you are doing everything you can, but are just not making your way up the ladder to the success you want fast enough?

Sometimes, it can feel like you are staring up an endless flight of steps that seem to go on forever.  I imagine that can be overwhelming!

And there is so much TO DO to actually “get there”, right? There are all these steps you know you have to take, all these things that have to be in place BEFORE you can stand confident and truly claim your dream!

It’s that place you see in your mind where you’ve MADE IT!

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just leap ahead and just get there already?

I get it.  When I first moved to NYC and started auditioning, I wanted to book my Broadway show right away!  And when I didn’t, then I knew it meant I wasn’t “ready”.  So, I took classes, and lessons, and kept working at my craft, believing that if I worked hard enough, then I would be ready.

Sound familiar?

With each rejection, a deep belief started to form, as I watched my peers book their Broadway show, which was,
I’m not ready.

So, I held myself back, and went back to what I knew…doing the same hard work and just HOPING it would change.  Staring at the endless steps, I just kept going.  What I didn’t realize was that I was stuck on the same step again and again.

When everything did change, it certainly wasn’t the way I thought, and I realized there had been a HUGE piece missing.

When I went through my divorce and lost everything, I found myself meditating for the first time in my life.  In the midst of such chaos and grief, it truly saved me.

The beginning instruction for Zazen, the Zen form of meditation, is to count your breath.  When a thought comes in, you see it, release it, and then go back to 1, counting up to 10.  When I first began, I cried almost every time I would sit, and the counting was a lifeline.  It gave me a structure to come back to, and a way to deal with the constant panic and heartbreak I was feeling.

I found comfort in the counting, and my mind started to calm.  While I watched other practitioners and formal students drop the counting, I just kept with it.  I wasn’t ready for that!

My life was changing, I found my true voice as an Artist, found full time work I loved, and then met my now life partner.

And every day, I sat to meditate, and counted my breath.  1, 2, 3……..some days I went back to 1 many times, and others I made it to 10 easily.  I stayed on the step of counting my breath, because I believed that was where I needed to be.

Last weekend, I went to a Half Day meditation sit.

We had the opportunity to have face to face teaching, and I jumped up right away.

What typically happens is you enter the small room, and sit in front of the teacher and say your name and what your practice is, so I entered and said,
My name is Nikol and my practice is counting my breath.

And before I could then ask the question that was burning in my heart, my teacher looked right at me, and said,
How’s that going for you?

Caught a little off guard, I stammered,
Oh! It’s going well!

And then he asked,
Do you have a daily practice?

I answered quickly,

My teacher smiled and said,
You’d be surprised how long it takes some people to make this a daily practice.

I was about to reply when he dropped the smile and said,
I want you to drop the counting.  Don’t try to control it.

My eyes widened, and I was a bit in shock.  This was NOT what I expected was going to happen today.  I didn’t think I was ready to do that! 

So, after the teaching was complete, I grabbed my cushion and returned to the Zendo, where everyone was sitting and meditating.

I could feel a panic rising in me.
No more counting.
Wait….that means that I’m JUST with my breath?
I was terrified.

I started to cry, and sat back down.  I saw the thought, let it go, and then something magical happened.

In the place of the counting was just SPACE.


And I realized I was relaxing on a level I hadn’t before.
Because there was NO counting. There was no structure.

Just my breath.

And I realized how the counting had become a crutch.  It was actually holding me back.  I had been on the same step again and again for the single reason,
I didn’t think I was ready.

Thank goodness my teacher knew I was. Because without his guidance, I would STILL be on that step, and probably wondering why I was having so much trouble relaxing.

Growth doesn’t happen in comfort.

Much like the minute we take off the training wheels, or take off the floaties and swim without help, it allows us to see we are actually CAPABLE.

I remember Broadway choreographer Patti Wilcox saying to me in class one day,
I want you to always take class standing in front from here out.

She saw something in me, and she knew I was ready.  Without her guidance, I would have stayed in the back for years.

I’ve heard so many people say to me,
I’m not ready.

But the truth is, confidence comes from the new action you take.

You can only see to your limitation, so the vital ingredient here is a guide, someone who knows your dreams, who is tracking your efforts, and is skilled in what is necessary for you to grow.

Growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and it definitely doesn’t happen alone.

The largest lesson I learned in my face of my divorce was to ask for help.  But not just ANY help, help from specific guides who got me,  and who could really help me. I would never have decided to launch my business and successfully go full time without a coach.

And I would never have dropped the counting.

The part that is the largest miracle is I’ve been struggling lately with how to release more control.  This was actually what I wanted to ask my teacher about.  And even before I could share that, he offered me the action that would give me exactly what I needed.

Turns out I was ready.

And what about you?
What step have you felt you’ve been in for years?
Do you have a guide?

What if you are ready to go to the next level?
Is someone seeing you as capable and offering guidance?

We don’t grow alone.

Your success will unfold when get out of your own way, and you come back to being a student. 

We do this together.
You are far stronger than you think.

Surround yourself with guides that see this in you.

And then take the next step.
You’re ready.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Summer Possibility

Do you feel like you are working so hard and not getting where you want?
Does it feel like you are hitting the wall and not seeing the results you had hoped for?

Here we are at the halfway point of the year, and it’s a really good time to just check in and ask,
How is it going?

Sometimes, however, the answer we see can be pretty tricky to process.

You may feel disappointed.
You may be thinking,
I should be farther along than this by now.

The day to day grind can really take us out and while we started the year with so much enthusiasm, the summer can typically be a place where everything slows down.  And for many, I imagine that can be scary, especially when it comes to your livelihood and your dreams.

So, what actually helps in the summer heat?
What helps when we see where we are and just feel disappointed?

Well, as James Taylor famously sang,
You’ve got a friend…..

This past week I went to see my acupuncturist for the first time in almost two years, the luminous Sabbath McLean.

This is the woman who saw me through my divorce, back injury, car accidents, and really me creating a whole new life.

I’ll never forget the first time I went to see her.  I was overcome with grief as my divorce was happening, and I sat in front of her and she looked at me with the widest eyes of compassion.

I felt so SEEN, so safe.  She held the space as I wept, and I knew after the first session I would be back again…and again….and again.

What I could have never imagined was how a deeper connection was formed.  When I started dating for the first time in my life at the age of 38, Sabbath shared her success story of meeting her husband online.  Over the years, I would come in with my woes and trials of finding my man. Sometimes we laughed, and many times, I cried.

I remember coming in after a deep disappointment and feeling so panicked I was never going to find my man, and Sabbath looked me deep in the eyes and said,
You haven’t given up.
You are still here.

She was reminding me of my perseverance, and reminding me of my vision, of my WHY.

And over the four years I was seeing her, something else magical was happening for both of us.
We were both creating our own companies.  We shared our dreams of having our own businesses, ones we loved where we no longer had to answer to bosses, and could have creative control over what we offered.

No more middle men.

In 2015, I opened the doors to ZenRedNYC, and in 2017, she opened the doors to Silver Spring Wellness.

When I saw Sabbath this week, I was overcome with emotion.  Again, sitting in front of her large eyes, I said,
Sabbath, it happened….I’m married now.

She smiled and said,
And you appear so happy.

And as I choked on my tears, I shared,
It’s a miracle…he’s more than I could have ever hoped for.

Everything came flooding in at that moment.  All the times I came in, feeling so frustrated.  All the summers I looked at where I was and wasn’t where I wanted to be. The crazy ups and downs of the journey and all my fears it would never happen.

But, Sabbath reminded me, I stayed IN it.
I stayed committed to my vision.
I stayed connected to my dream.

And here we were.

Sabbath with a successful wellness center, full of the practitioners she wanted, and me, happily married to the most incredible man, and doing work I love.

Sabbath was and has been a witness to my hardest and most challenging journey.
She has also been witness to my greatest triumphs.

And in seeing her, I was reminded of my OWN strength and capability…through her wide and compassionate eyes.

I saw myself, and knew everything is going to be ok.
Everything IS ok.

When we are in the thick of things, we can easily lose sight of the journey.
And we can also lose sight of our support.

If you are feeling stuck, this is the perfect time of year to re-focus on your vision.

What was that creative dream you had back in January?

Now, take the time to ask yourself some really powerful questions,
* What is WORKING as you progress towards your vision?
* What are your stumbling blocks and what actions can you take to resolve them?

And most importantly,
* What support might you add to make your progress even more efficient, fun and easy?

Simply put, we don’t get there alone.
We are stronger together.

Who is championing you in your life right now?
Who is rooting for your Art and Creative Dreams?

We can only see as far as our limitations, so it is vital you have help on your journey.

Whether that is a coach or mentor…who is SEEING you for ALL you are?

Sometimes, it takes being seen by someone who believes in us to wake up to our greatest source and simple fact I know if my heart about you,
You are limitless.

Surround yourself with people who nurture and promote you.

Let the summer sun shine on your brilliance.

Take stock where you are, and where you are headed, and celebrate everything that has led you to here.

This is a new day full of possibilities.  Bring close those that see YOUR possibility too.